IMG_1042Alumni Coordinators are the leaders of the FLEX and YES alumni communities; connecting with the hundreds (at times thousands) of alumni in their community, offering alumni opportunities for personal and professional development, and organizing regular activities to share the goals of the FLEX and YES program in their home communities.  The FLEX and YES Alumni programs organized the annual training conference for Alumni Coordinators in Tbilisi, Georgia on August 27-30.  Alumni Coordinators from ten FLEX countries, including two of the new FLEX countries Montenegro and Serbia, and from six YES countries in South East Europe and in Senegal participated in the training.

IMG_1105The annual training event prepares Alumni Coordinators for their tenure with American Councils, teaching them about the organization and its goals, guiding them through the position of Alumni Coordinator, and offering them training sessions aimed to develop skills they will need to succeed in the job.  The coordinators attended sessions by FLEX and YES Alumni program staff, former Alumni Coordinators and fellow alumni, and representatives of the U.S. Embassy in Tbilisi, Georgia.

TIMG_1096hroughout the workshop, Alumni Coordinators led sessions to share their experience and expertise with their fellow ACs.  The peers teaching peers approach opens the door for greater regional collaboration, shares best practices from country to country and program to program, and encourages experienced Alumni Coordinators to share the tricks of the trade!  Each Alumni Coordinator presented activities that are traditional or successful in his or her alumni community and encouraged others to hold similar events and reach out for advice on organizing the events. The Alumni Coordinators representing the northern and southern regions of Kazakhstan shared a successful fundraising project, where they worked with their networks of City Representatives to organize lemonade stands around the country, raising over 8,000.  Another project that Alumni Coordinators were interested in adopting into their annual plan was the Love Notes project, initiated in Bulgaria to celebrate Valentine’s Day.  Experienced senior alumni also led sessions on working effectively with City Representatives and led a panel entitled, “The Job of the Alumni Coordinator.”

IMG_9934Alumni Coordinators learned techniques to improve their communication with alumni using online tools.  The ACs attended an online session with American Councils Communications Associate Liz Eckert on Branding and Marketing and actively participated in a social media training with Ana Brzakovic ’07(Nis, Serbia/ Manassa, CO), who advise the Alumni Coordinators throughout the year social media branding and campaign development.  FLEX and YES Alumni programs staff also held sessions to introduce the programs’ websites, creating listservs, using the alumni database, and effectively communicating with alumni.

IMG_9874Fun and learning went hand and hand at this event.  ACs enjoyed teambuilding activities to take home to their alumni communities, culture events to learn more about their neighbors and the countries where FLEX and YES is administered, presentations introducing them to the many opportunities made available to alumni of U.S. Government sponsored exchange programs, and beautiful Tbilisi, Georgia, which welcomes its visitors with open arms.

The FLEX and YES Alumni Coordinator training conference is made possible with the support of the U.S. Department of State Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.